Lufthansa to start industry-first scheduled passenger jet biofuel flights in 2011 in partnership with Airbus
Neste Oil's Naantali refinery in Finland (photo: Neste Oil)
Mon 29 Nov 2010 – Lufthansa is to commence the world’s first scheduled daily flights from April 2011 using a biofuel blended jet fuel. The 50 percent blend made from Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil will be used on one engine of an IAE-powered Airbus A321 aircraft on flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt. The flights will initially continue for a period of six months as part of a project to study the long-term impact of sustainable biofuels on aircraft performance, with Airbus providing technical assistance and fuel properties monitoring. The fuel will come from sustainable feedstock sources and is being provided under a long-term agreement with Finland-based Neste Oil. Last week, Airbus conducted its first Latin American biofuel test flight with TAM Airlines.
“We see great opportunities in the use of bio-synthetic kerosene. But we are first gathering experience with it in daily practice. Indeed, Lufthansa is the world’s first airline to utilize biofuel in flight operations. This is a further consistent step in the sustainability strategy, which Lufthansa has for years been successfully pursuing,” commented Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber.
Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders hailed the daily biofuel flights as a significant step forward in the industry’s push for a sustainable future.
“Airbus is bringing together feedstock producers, fuel refiners and airlines, and with today’s announcement of passenger flights, we have taken yet another step towards making this real,” he said.
Flights will begin after official approval has been received from ASTM International certifying the commercial use of 50% blends of jet biofuel, such as that produced through Neste Oil’s NExBTL technology. The approval is expected early next year, following ASTM 7566 certification last year of 50% blends of synthetic jet fuels.
A meeting of an ASTM subcommittee is taking place next week in Florida, according to Richard Altman, Executive Director of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI).
“We have been working intensely to achieve that approval,” he told GreenAir Online. “Assuming subcommittee approval is received, full committee approval and issuance will occur in the February/March time period. This is based on our experience with ASTM 7566, so the Lufthansa announcement accommodates that scenario.
“Needless to say, CAAFI sponsors are delighted with the Lufthansa news and congratulate their team.”
Neste Oil is a refining and marketing company concentrating on low-emission, high-quality traffic fuels and claims to be the world’s leading supplier of renewable diesel.
The company’s proprietary NExBTL hydrogenization technology produces jet fuel from renewable raw materials such as vegetable oil and animal fat. The fuel will only be produced from sustainable feedstock sources to ensure they do not compete for food, water or land. Neste Oil says the greenhouse gas emissions of NExBTL renewable jet fuel, as calculated over the fuel’s entire life cycle, are 40-80% lower than those of fossil-based jet fuel. The company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.
“We're very proud of the fact that our NExBTL technology is capable of meeting aviation needs,” said Matti Lievonen, Neste Oil’s President and CEO. “Aviation fuels are covered by very strict quality standards, and our NExBTL technology has proved that it can produce a fuel meeting these standards. Being a pioneer in this area is very positive for us, as it could open up major business opportunities in the future.”
Lufthansa’s flight programme is part of a development project supported by the German Ministry of Economics and Technology that also involves companies such as MTU and Deutsche Airbus as well as a number of universities.
“Lufthansa and Neste Oil are leading the field in moving towards greener aviation, and we’re very pleased to be able to announce that we will now be working together,” says Lufthansa’s Joachim Buse, Vice President Aviation Biofuel. “In addition to a smaller carbon footprint, renewable jet fuel will also reduce emissions of pollutants such as SOx.”